By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Getting signed to NXT: “Obviously, me being like this big hairy troll probably helped because I was the only person who looked like that at the time. I saw a gap in the market. One of the ICW commentators, Billy Kirkwood, he called me the Beast of Belfast. And I was like, shit, that is the light bulb that went off, is exactly what I needed at the time. I was pushing to try and think, I need something. I need an angle. I needed something that I wanted to go with. And because he said that, I was like, that was it. That’s what I needed. So I stopped shaving my body and everything else. I let my beard grow a bit longer. I let my hair grow longer. And I was like, Shit, this is what I’m going to go with. Because I was already big. I was 300 lbs. I was doing strongman stuff at that point. And I kind of realized I was kind of hiding that I was wearing singlets and stuff like that. I was trying to almost keep it, like, hidden. And then I realized, no, shall I go the opposite way? Start wearing the trunks and I look as big as humanly possible. They were signing Shinsuke Nakamura. And they needed footage. They used a match that Shinskue Nakamura I had for Rev Pro for his entire video, his entire video. And I guess they realized, oh, shit, there is something there with this guy. And I got an email that says, can you come down and see us in Manchester? I was like, oh, shit, it’s very different than what it was the last time. And I’m like, okay, sure. I’m still not quite sure if it means just a basic tryout or whatever else. So it was all very different. And from the outset, they put Tommy (End) and I in a match together, like five, six-minute match, whatever. And they signed us both.”
On Sanity being better in NXT: “Simple. We weren’t created by Vince (McMahon). And originally, he liked one of our promos, and then he watched the same promo two weeks later and didn’t like it. So, you know, it comes down to if he sees the vision, then great, it works. And that happens sometimes. You know, certain guys he saw the Vision of them and was like, yeah, brilliant. He didn’t like that there was a girl in our group, so he got rid of Nikki (Cross). To be honest, Nikki was such an integral member of Sanity. By the time we got called up, we were babyfaces in NXT. We went the full journey to the point where people genuinely started liking us. So when we go up to the main roster, we’re heels, we don’t have Nikki. So they need somebody to job to Jeff Hardy and some genius puts her hand up and says, ‘Hey, why don’t you have EY [Eric Young] do that? He’s a great wrestler.’ And he is. E lost on television, and that’s what happens. It’s the sad but true part of live television and that it could have worked differently.”
On being released by WWE: “So I think once they let go of Bray (Wyatt) and Braun (Strowman), every single person on that roster was like, yeah, all bets are off now, because the year before that, when there was a little period where I wasn’t on TV at all, like, COVID, just started. Like, I was. I was struggling for TV time, but I survived that. And I remember, like, having these conversations with the writers. They’re like, no, you were never in any of the lists. Whatever. I was like, okay, cool. When I got released, I was in the PC. I was training some of the younger talent. I’ve just been told by Terry Taylor that we’ve got this gimmick, me and Drake Maverick are doing this thing on Tuesday, and it was quite a cool gimmick. I was like, oh, that’s kind of cool. Looking forward to it. And then you get released, and you’re like, oh, shit. And I just signed an extension of my deal. They could have let me expire four weeks before they let me go. I was due to expire at the same time as Alexander Wolfe. They extended my deal, and sadly, they didn’t extend his. So I got to see it up close and personal. I helped him leave the States, you know what I mean? I helped him get his life together before he left, him and his family. So one of the most emotional days of my life was taking him to the airport, you know what I mean? Like, it sucked. And yet they extended my deal. They kept me on, and I was like, oh, shit, I guess I’m safe then, or we’re whatever, and then I’m on TV and whatever else. And then, boom, then I’m gone. Four weeks later.”
On his AEW stint: “It had all the production and all the pomp and circumstance like WWE. It was like all of the crews and everything. What they’ve done, everything backstage, front of house, whatever else felt very like WWE without the walking on eggshells and the difficulty with everything else. It was like WWE without the anxiety, which was very unusual, very different. And it was full of familiar faces. I had a very bizarre almost every 20 minutes or 10 minutes, whatever, I’d run into somebody else who I absolutely adored, I’ve met either through the indies before the WWE, either at the WWE itself or even in the Indies after the WWE. It was a very unusual experience, but it was awesome, I have to admit.”
Other topics include his breaking into the business, ICW, RevPro, Drew McIntyre, NXT, Triple H, Killian Dain, Sanity, WWE, Vince McMahon, Eric Young, Smackdown, his WWE release, and more.